1492 – Spain and Christopher Columbus sign a contract, the Capitulations of Santa Fe, for his voyage to Asia to acquire spices. They granted Columbus the titles of Admiral of the Ocean Sea, the Viceroy, the Governor-General and honorific Don, and also the tenth part of all riches to be obtained from his intended voyage. When Columbus’ proposal was initially rejected, Isabella I of Castile convoked another assembly, made up from sailors, philosophers, astrologers and others to reexamine the project. The experts considered absurd the distances between Spain and the Indies that Columbus calculated. The monarchs also became doubting, but a group of influential courtiers convinced them that they would lose little if the project failed and would gain much if it succeeded. Among those advisors were the Archbishop of Toledo Hernando de Talavera, the notary Luis de Santángel and the chamberlain Juan Cabrero.
1524 – Giovanni da Verrazano, Florentine navigator, explored from Cape Fear to Newfoundland and discovered New York Bay and the Hudson River of present-day New York harbor.
1741 – Samuel Chase, signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born.
1778 – Sloop-of-war Ranger captures a British brig.
1790 – American statesman, printer, scientist, and writer Benjamin Franklin dies in Philadelphia at age 84. Born in Boston in 1706, Franklin became at 12 years old an apprentice to his half brother James, a printer and publisher. He learned the printing trade and in 1723 went to Philadelphia to work after a dispute with his brother. After a sojourn in London, he started a printing and publishing press with a friend in 1728. In 1729, the company won a contract to publish Pennsylvania’s paper currency and also began publishing the Pennsylvania Gazette, which was regarded as one of the better colonial newspapers. From 1732 to 1757, he wrote and published Poor Richard’s Almanack, an instructive and humorous periodical in which Franklin coined such practical American proverbs as “God helps those who help themselves” and “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” As his own wealth and prestige grew, Franklin took on greater civic responsibilities in Philadelphia and helped establish the city’s first circulating library, police force, volunteer fire company, and an academy that became the University of Pennsylvania. From 1737 to 1753, he was postmaster of Philadelphia and during this time also served as a clerk of the Pennsylvania legislature. In 1753, he became deputy postmaster general, in charge of mail in all the northern colonies. Deeply interesting in science and technology, he invented the Franklin stove, which is still manufactured today, and bifocal eyeglasses, among other practical inventions. In 1748, he turned his printing business over to his partner so he would have more time for his experiments. The phenomenon of electricity fascinated him, and in a dramatic experiment he flew a kite in a thunderstorm to prove that lightning is an electrical discharge. He later invented the lightning rod. Many terms used in discussing electricity, including positive, negative, battery, and conductor, were coined by Franklin in his scientific papers. He was the first American scientist to be highly regarded in European scientific circles. Franklin was active in colonial affairs and in 1754 proposed the union of the colonies, which was rejected by Britain. In 1757, he went to London to argue for the right to tax the massive estates of the Penn family in Pennsylvania, and in 1764 went again to ask for a new charter for Pennsylvania. He was in England when Parliament passed the Stamp Act, a taxation measure to raise revenues for a standing British army in America. His initial failure to actively oppose the controversial act drew wide criticism in the colonies, but he soon redeemed himself by stoutly defending American rights before the House of Commons. With tensions between the American colonies and Britain rising, he stayed on in London and served as agent for several colonies. In 1775, he returned to America as the American Revolution approached and was a delegate at the Continental Congress. In 1776, he helped draft the Declaration of Independence and in July signed the final document. Ironically, Franklin’s illegitimate son, William Franklin, whom Franklin and his wife had raised, had at the same time emerged as a leader of the Loyalists. In 1776, Congress sent Benjamin Franklin, one of the embattled United States’ most prominent statesmen, to France as a diplomat. Warmly embraced, he succeeded in 1778 in securing two treaties that provided the Americans with significant military and economic aid. In 1781, with French help, the British were defeated. With John Jay and John Adams, Franklin then negotiated the Treaty of Paris with Britain, which was signed in 1783. In 1785, Franklin returned to the United States. In his last great public service, he was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and worked hard for the document’s ratification. After his death in 1790, Philadelphia gave him the largest funeral the city had ever seen.
1797 – Sir Ralph Abercromby attacks San Juan, Puerto Rico, in what would be one of the largest invasions of the Spanish territories in America. The attack was carried out facing the historic town of Miramar. Lieutenant-General Sir Ralph Abercromby invaded the island of Puerto Rico with a force of 6,000-13,000 men, which included German soldiers and Royal Marines and a 60 to 64 ship armada. The Spanish spotted an enemy convoy off the coastline that morning. Upon this sighting, the Governor, Brigadier General Ramón de Castro, summoned his military Chiefs to immediately put a defense plan into action. Along strategic points throughout the coastline, garrison troops were placed into position. While attempting to maneuver ships into the inlet, the British fleet encountered a problem. There was an underwater reef that was very narrow so that only frigates and smaller transport ships could enter. The British placed two frigates at the opening of the port to deny entrance to other ships. On April 18, anchored British ships began bombarding points where the Spanish had taken defensive positions to protect the beach. After some minor battles, the British sent a ship flying diplomatic colors to the entrance of the port and was met by an aide-de-camp who was given a message for the Commanding Officer of the city. In the message, they demanded the immediate surrender of Spanish forces. The British ship did not wait for a response, and in some confusion later in the night, a Spanish ship carrying a reply message came under fire. Controlling the port became a chess match as the Spanish fleet mimicked every move by the British armada. The British were able to land many small groups of soldiers along the beach, some of which were German soldiers who were fighting alongside the British. During the day on April 19, two German soldiers were captured. One of the soldiers had in his possession a hand-written paper containing a name of a city resident. The Spanish, fearing a traitor in their ranks, had this man arrested. The order was given on Friday, April 21 by the Spanish to destroy San Antonio bridge to eliminate an opportunity of the British forces to take cover and advance their position. Saturday April 22, the Spanish began taking up defensive positions after noticing large regiments of British flying their colors just out of range of the Spanish cannons. Trenches were dug and spiked boards were emplaced to slow the impending attack. On Monday, April 24, Militia Sergeant Francisco Diaz was chosen to lead a party of 70 men to attack a British position. They met approximately 300 British soldiers who they were able to force to retreat despite their superior number. The raiding party found a cannon battery and captured fourteen prisoners. The British then staged a counterattack and the Spanish raiding party was forced to flee. Fierce fighting continued for the next five days. Both sides suffered heavy loses. On Sunday, April 30 British ceased their attack and began their retreat from San Juan.
1805 – The Revenue cutter Louisiana engaged two pirates that had been fitted out at New Orleans. Twenty shots were exchanged but the pirate vessels escaped.
1808 – The Bayonne Decree by Napoleon I of France ordered the seizure of U.S. ships on the pretext that they were in violation of the U. S. Embargo Act (22 December 1807), resulting in over ten million dollars in United States goods and ships being confiscated.
1824 – Russia abandoned all North American claims south of 54′ 40′.
1849 – The United States’ relationship with Japan at the end of the 1840s was one of extreme caution. The establishment of dialogue between the US and Japan was in its infancy and no relationships had yet been formed; very little, in fact, was known about Japan. Thus, the crew of the Preble found themselves in a very uncomfortable position when, without that country’s permission, they sailed into Japanese waters and weighed anchor off Nagasaki on April 17, 1849. The Preble’s mission was to rescue American merchant marine sailors who were being held in a Japanese prison as spies. While the Preble was at Hong Kong, the US Navy had received word from the Dutch merchants in Canton that the Japanese were holding fifteen American sailors that had been shipwrecked off of the coast of Japan during a whaling expedition. Their whaling ship, the Lagoda, had gone down in the Japan Sea with 1,300 barrels of oil on June 2 after hitting a shoal in heavy fog (Larson 1994 ). Sailing orders to Captain Glynn addressed the issue of international relations: In your correspondence with the Japanese, your conduct will be conciliatory but firm. You will be careful not to violate the laws or customs of the Country, or by any means prejudice the success of any pacific policy our government may be inclined to pursue. Nevertheless you may be placed in situations¼ which cannot be foreseen¼ . In all such cases, every confidence is reposed in your discretion and ability to guard the interests as well as the honor of your country (National Archives Microfilm Publication M89; Larson 1994 ). At the arrival of the Preble in Nagasaki, small boats were sent out to her from which notes attached to bamboo sticks were thrown on board the Preble’s deck. Captain Glynn immediately threw them overboard insisting on being afforded the respect of speaking with a representative in person. Over the next three days, several officials and interpreters came aboard to negotiate with Captain Glynn. The Captain, under frequent questioning about his rank and the disposition of the United States Naval forces, stood his ground and continually argued to speak with higher ranking officials. Glynn delivered an ultimatum on April 22, saying that in three days he would go ashore to speak personally with the governor of Nagasaki for the release of the prisoners. The next day, the American prisoners were released to Dutch traders on shore and conveyed to the Preble. Captain Glynn did not converse with any officials after that and the Preble reported back to the East India Squadron in Hong Kong with the rescued passengers.
1861 – The Virginia State Convention voted to secede from the Union. Virginia became the eighth state to secede from the Union.
1861 – U.S.S. Powhatan, Lieutenant D. D. Porter, arrived off Pensacola. Under her protecting guns, 600 troops on board steamer Atlantic were landed at Fort Pickens to complete its reinforcement. President Lincoln had stated “I want that fort saved at all hazards.” The President’s wish was fulfilled, and use of the best harbor on the Gulf was denied the Confederacy for the entire war, while serving the Union indispensably in the blockade and the series of devastating assaults from the sea that divided and destroyed the South.
1863 – Grierson’s Raid begins – troops under Union Army Colonel Benjamin Grierson attack central Mississippi. Grierson’s Raid was a Union cavalry raid during the Vicksburg Campaign of the American Civil War. It ran to May 2, 1863, as a diversion from Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s main attack plan on Vicksburg, Mississippi.
1863 – Gunboats under Rear Admiral Porter engaged and ran past the Confederate batteries at Vicksburg shepherding Army transports to New Carthage below the Southern citadel. The force included U.S.S. Benton, Lafayette, Louisville, Pittsburg, Mound City, Carondelet, and Tuscumbia; U.S.S. General Sterling Price was lashed to the starboard side of Lafayette for the passage, as was tug Ivy to Benton. Each hip, except Benton, also towed a coal barge containing 10,000 bushels of coal. Lafayette, Captain Walke, hampered by the ship lashed to her side, received nine ”effective” shots through her casemate and had her coal barge sunk. Transport Henry Clay was sunk, with no loss of life, during the passage and another, Forest Queen, was temporarily disabled but was successfully aided by Tuscumbia, Lieutenant Commander James W. Shirk. Under fire for 2 1/2 hours, beginning shortly after 11 p.m. on the 16th, the squadron suffered what Porter termed only “very light” loss. He reported that all ships were ready for service within half an hour after the passage. ”Altogether,” he remarked, ”we were very fortunate; the vessels had some narrow escapes, but were saved in most instances by the precautions taken to protect them. They were covered with heavy logs and bales of wet hay, which were found to be an excellent defense.” A memorandum in the Secretary of the Navy’s office recorded: “The passage of the fleet by Vicksburg was a damper to the spirits of all rebel sympathizers along the Mississippi for everyone was so impressed with the absurdity of our gunboats getting safely past their batteries without being knocked to pieces that they would not admit to themselves that it would be undertaken until they saw the gunboats moving down the river all safe and sound. Vicksburg was despaired of from that moment.” The successful steaming of the squadron past the heavy batteries contributed to the early seizure of Grand Gulf, the eventual fall of Vicksburg itself, and ultimately the total control of the entire Mississippi.
1864 – General Grant banned the trading of prisoners.
1864 – Confederate forces attack Plymouth, North Carolina, in an attempt to recapture ports lost to the Union two years before. The four-day battle ended with the fall of Plymouth, but the Yankees kept the city bottled up with a flotilla on nearby Albemarle Sound. In 1862, the Union captured Plymouth and several other points along the North Carolina coast. In doing so, they deprived the Confederacy of several ports for blockade-runners and the agricultural products from several fertile counties. In the spring of 1864, the Confederates mounted a campaign to reverse these defeats. General George Pickett led a division to the area and launched a failed attack on New Bern in February. Now, General Robert Hoke assumed command and moved his army against Plymouth, fifty miles north of New Bern. He planned an attack using the C.S.S. Albemarle, an ironclad that was still being built on the Roanoke River inland from Plymouth. With 7,000 men, Hoke attacked the 2,800-man Union garrison at Plymouth on April 17. His troops began to capture some of the outer defenses, but he needed the Albemarle to bomb the city from the river. The ironclad moved from its makeshift shipyard on April 17, but it was still under construction. With workers aboard, Captain James Cooke moved down the Roanoke. The Albemarle’s rudder broke and the engine stalled, so it took two days to reach Plymouth. When it arrived, the Rebel ship took on two Yankee ships, sinking one and forcing the other to retreat. With the ironclad on the scene, Hoke’s men captured Plymouth on April 20. The Confederates lost 163 men killed and 554 wounded, but captured the entire Union garrison and vast amounts of supplies and arms. The Union lost about 150 killed and wounded, but several hundred of the captured soldiers eventually died at the notorious Andersonville Prison in Georgia. The Rebel victory was limited by the fact that the Albemarle was still pinned in the Roanoke River. The crew tried to fight past a Union flotilla on Albemarle Sound on May 5, but it could not escape. It was destroyed in a Union raid on Plymouth on October 27, 1864. Yankee troops recaptured the city four days later.
1864 – There was a bread revolt in Savannah, Georgia.
1865 – Mary Surratt was arrested as a conspirator in the Lincoln assassination.
1865 – The Confederate ironclad Jackson (previously Muscogee) was destroyed at Columbus, Georgia, after Union Army forces overran Southern defenses at the city in an attack that began the preceeding night. Major General George H. Thomas reported: “The rebel ram Jackson, nearly ready for sea, and carrying six 7-inch [rifled] guns, fell into our hands and was destroyed, as well as the navy yard, founderies, the arsenal and armory, sword and pistol factory . . . all of which were burned.” Twelve miles below the city the Union troops found the burned hulk of C.S.S. Chattahoochee which the Confederates themselves h4 destroyed. The navy yard at Columbus had been a key facility in the building of the machinery for Southern ironclads.
1897 – The Aurora, Texas, UFO incident reportedly occurred on April 17, 1897 when, according to locals, a UFO crashed on a farm near Aurora, Texas. The incident (similar to the more famous Roswell UFO incident 50 years later) is claimed to have resulted in a fatality from the crash and the alleged alien body is to have been buried in an unmarked grave at the local cemetery.
1907 – The Ellis Island immigration center in New York Harbor processed a record 11,747 immigrants, part of a record 1,004,756 for the year. Between 1820 and 1970, the year 1907 saw the largest number of immigrants to the U.S., 1,285,349. Between 1905 and 1915, the annual immigration numbers topped 1 million six times.
1917 – French and British forces near Ypres halt a second German offensive that had had as it’s objective the sea port of Northen France. General Erich Luddendorf and the German General Staff being laying plans for a third offensive. Meanwhile, the British are also plannign an offensive to consolidate their position; securing the Belgian coast and conencting with the Dutch frontier.
These plans are prelude to the Third battle of Ypres, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele.
1943 – The US 8th Air Force carries out a daylight bombing raid on aircraft factories in Bremen. Of 115 B-17 bombers employed, 16 are lost on the mission.
1943 – Admiral Yamamoto flew from Truk to Rabaul.
1943 – Lieutenant Ross P. Bullard and Boatswain’s Mate First Class C. S. “Mike” Hall boarded the U-175 at sea after their cutter, the CGC Spencer, blasted the U-boat to the surface with depth charges when the U-boat attempted to attack the convoy the Spencer was escorting. They were part of a boarding party sent to seize the U-boat before the Nazi crew could scuttle it. The damage to the U-boat was severe, however, and it sank after both had boarded it and climbed the conning tower. Both men ended up in the water as it slipped beneath the waves. Nevertheless, they carry the distinction of being the first American servicemen to board an enemy warship underway at sea since the War of 1812. The Navy credited the Spencer with the kill. She rescued 19 of the U-boat’s crew and her sister cutter, Duane, rescued 22. One Spencer crewman was killed by friendly fire during the battle.
1944 – US B-17 and B-24 bombers attack Sofia, Bulgaria.
1944 – US B-17 and B-24 bombers attack Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
1945 – U.S. Lieutenant Colonel Boris T. Pash commandeers over half a ton of uranium at Strassfut, Germany, in an effort to prevent the Russians from developing an A-bomb. Pash was head of the Alsos Group, organized to search for German scientists in the postwar environment in order to prevent the Russians, previously Allies but now a potential threat, from capturing any scientists and putting them to work at their own atomic research plants. Uranium piles were also rich “catches,” as they were necessary to the development of atomic weapons.
1945 – There are American landings in the Moro Gulf at Cotabatu. The assault units are from US 24th Infantry Division from US 10th Corps (General Sibert). Admiral Noble commands 3 cruisers and a destroyer force in support. The American forces which landed at Zamboanga early in March have already cleared a large part of the southwest of the island, but the majority of the Japanese 35th Army (General Suzuki) remains intact. There is no initial opposition to the new landings.
1951 – Operation DAUNTLESS continued to advance against weakened communist resistance in the 24th and 25th Infantry Division zones. A company of the 24th Infantry Division’s 6th Tank Battalion moved up Route 3 to within seven miles of Kumhwa without contact.
1960 – The International Control Commission, which oversees the implementation of the Geneva Agreements of 1954, agrees to A South Vietnamese government request for the United States to double it’s Military Advisory Assistance Group (MAAG) presence to 685. North Vietnam protests the approval and accuses the United States of turning South Vietnam into ‘a US military base for the preparation of a new war.’
1961 – The Bay of Pigs invasion begins when a CIA financed and trained group of Cuban refugees lands in Cuba and attempts to topple the communist government of Fidel Castro. The attack was an utter failure. Fidel Castro had been a concern to U.S. policymakers since he seized power in Cuba with a revolution in January 1959. Castro’s attacks on U.S. companies and interests in Cuba, his inflammatory anti-American rhetoric, and Cuba’s movement toward a closer relationship with the Soviet Union led U.S. officials to conclude that the Cuban leader was a threat to U.S. interests in the Western Hemisphere. In March 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the CIA to train and arm a force of Cuban exiles for an armed attack on Cuba. John F. Kennedy inherited this program when he became president in 1961. Though many of his military advisors indicated that an amphibious assault on Cuba by a group of lightly armed exiles had little chance for success, Kennedy gave the go-ahead for the attack. On April 17, 1961, around 1,200 exiles, armed with American weapons and using American landing craft, waded ashore at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba. The hope was that the exile force would serve as a rallying point for the Cuban citizenry, who would rise up and overthrow Castro’s government. The plan immediately fell apart–the landing force met with unexpectedly rapid counterattacks from Castro’s military, the tiny Cuban air force sank most of the exiles’ supply ships, the United States refrained from providing necessary air support, and the expected uprising never happened. Over 100 of the attackers were killed, and more than 1,100 were captured. The failure at the Bay of Pigs cost the United States dearly. Castro used the attack by the “Yankee imperialists” to solidify his power in Cuba and he requested additional Soviet military aid. Eventually that aid included missiles, and the construction of missile bases in Cuba sparked the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, when the United States and the Soviet Union nearly came to blows over the issue. Further, throughout much of Latin America, the United States was pilloried for its use of armed force in trying to unseat Castro, a man who was considered a hero to many for his stance against U.S. interference and imperialism. Kennedy tried to redeem himself by publicly accepting blame for the attack and its subsequent failure, but the botched mission left the young president looking vulnerable and indecisive.
1964 – Secretary of State Dean Rusk, CIA Officer William Bundy, and Army Chief of Staff General Earle Wheeler, visit Saigon where they review the latest US plans for covert actions against North Vietnam with Ambassador Lodge.
1969 – Paris peace talks show no progress as Communist negotiators reject allied proposals for mutual withdrawal, demanding that US forces leave at once and unconditionally.
1970 – With the world anxiously watching, Apollo 13, a U.S. lunar spacecraft that suffered a severe malfunction on its journey to the moon, safely returns to Earth. On April 11, the third manned lunar landing mission was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying astronauts James A. Lovell, John L. Swigert, and Fred W. Haise. The mission was headed for a landing on the Fra Mauro highlands of the moon. However, two days into the mission, disaster struck 200,000 miles from Earth when oxygen tank No. 2 blew up in the spacecraft. Mission commander Lovell reported to mission control on Earth: “Houston, we’ve had a problem here,” and it was discovered that the normal supply of oxygen, electricity, light, and water had been disrupted. The landing mission was aborted, and the astronauts and controllers on Earth scrambled to come up with emergency procedures. The crippled spacecraft continued to the moon, circled it, and began a long, cold journey back to Earth. The astronauts and mission control were faced with enormous logistical problems in stabilizing the spacecraft and its air supply, as well as providing enough energy to the damaged fuel cells to allow successful reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. Navigation was another problem, and Apollo 13’s course was repeatedly corrected with dramatic and untested maneuvers. On April 17, tragedy turned to triumph as the Apollo 13 astronauts touched down safely in the Pacific Ocean.
1972 – Hundreds of students are arrested and 800 National Guardsmen are ordered onto the campus of the University of Maryland in response to demonstrations against the school’s ROTC program and members.
1973 – The Senate Armed Services Committee begins a probe into allegations that the US Air Force made thousands of secret B-52 raids into Cambodia in 1969 and 1970 in violation of Cambodian neutrality. The Pentagon acknowledges that the raids were authorized by President Nixon and Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird. Prince Sihanouk denies that he requested or authorized the bombing. Nixon and laird deny that they knew of or authorized falsification of the records of these missions.
1975 – The Khmer Rouge troops capture Phnom Penh and government forces surrender. The war between government troops and the communist insurgents had been raging since March 1970, when Lt. Gen. Lon Nol had ousted Prince Norodom Sihanouk in a bloodless coup and proclaimed the establishment of the Khmer Republic. Between 1970 and 1975, Lon Nol and his army, the Forces Armees Nationale Khmer (FANK), with U.S. support and military aid, battled the communist Khmer Rouge for control of Cambodia. During the five years of bitter fighting, approximately 10 percent of Cambodia’s 7 million people died. When the U.S. forces departed South Vietnam in 1973, both the Cambodians and South Vietnamese found themselves fighting the communists alone. Without U.S. support, Lon Nol’s forces fought on, but eventually succumbed to the Khmer Rouge. With the surrender, the victorious Khmer Rouge evacuated Phnom Penh and set about reordering Cambodian society. This resulted in a killing spree and the notorious “killing fields.” Eventually, hundreds of thousands of Cambodians were murdered or died from exhaustion, hunger, and disease.
1983 – Mark W. Clark (87), US general (WW II), died.
1986 – IBM produced its 1st megabit-chip.
1987 – LT Tom McClay received a direct commission as a flight officer for duty with the Coast Guard’s E2C Hawkeyes. LT McClay was the first Coast Guard flight officer.
1986 – The bodies of American librarian Peter Kilburn and two Britons were found near Beirut; the three hostages had been slain in apparent retaliation for the U.S. raid on Libya.
1995 – President Clinton signed an executive order stripping the classified label from most national security documents that were at least 25 years old.
1995 – An Air Force jet exploded and crashed in a wooded area in eastern Alabama, killing eight people, including an assistant Air Force secretary and a two-star general.
1998 – The space shuttle Columbia blasted off with 7 astronauts and a menagerie of creatures to test the effects of space travel on the nervous system.
1999 – The US launched the 505-foot Navy destroyer Winston S. Churchill at the Bath Iron Works in Maine.
1999 – NATO forces launched the 25th night of bombing against Yugoslavia in the strongest attacks thus far. Gen. Wesley Clark, NATO’s commander, warned Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to change his policies in Kosovo or see his military machine destroyed.
1999 – In Iraq US fighter planes bombed anti-aircraft sites in the northern no-fly zone.
2000 – The Clinton administration approved the sale of upgraded missiles and a long-range radar system for Taiwan but not 4 hi-tech destroyers.
2000 – In Spokane, Wa., Robert L. Yates Jr., a National Guardsman and the father of 5, was arrested for the murder of a 16-year-old prostitute and suspected in the murder of as many as 17 other slayings in Washington state.
2000 – In the Philippines Abu Sayyaf rebels on Basilan Island threatened to kidnap and kill Americans if the US does not release the men convicted for bombing the World Trade Center in New York.
2001 – US envoys arrived in China to resolved issues of the US spy plane collision with a Chinese jet.
2001 – In Mississippi voters decided to keep the Confederate emblem on the state flag by a margin of 65 to 35%.
2002 – A US fighter jet accidentally dropped a laser-guided bomb on Canadian forces near Kandahar, Afghanistan, and 4 soldiers were killed. On Sep 12 two U.S. F-16 fighter pilots were charged with manslaughter and assault in the “friendly fire” bombing of Canadian troops that killed four soldiers and injured eight. In 2004 USAF pilot Maj. Harry Schmidt was found guilty of dereliction of duty. He received a reprimand and was docked a month’s pay.
2003 – In the 30th day of Operation Iraqi Freedom American forces released more than 900 Iraqi prisoners, beginning the process of sorting through the thousands detained in the month-old war. Coalition forces still held 6,850 prisoners. The Bush administration planned to send in a 1,000-man team to search for weapons of mass destruction.
2003 – US Special Forces captured Barzan Ibrahim Hasan al-Tikriti (5 of clubs), a half brother of Saddam Hussein. He was 3rd the list of 55 former Iraqi officials wanted by the US.
2003 – The US Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha (MET Alpha) found an Iraqi scientist who led the them to sites that contained precursors for a banned toxic agent.
2003 – A riot broke out at a Baghdad bank after thieves blew a hole in the vault and dropped children in to bring out fistfuls of cash. As ordinary Iraqis protested vehemently, US troops calmed the situation by arresting the thieves and removed $4 million in US dollars for safekeeping.
Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day
CRILLEY, FRANK WILLIAM
Rank and organization: Chief Gunner’s Mate, U.S. Navy. Born: 13 September 1883, Trenton, N.J. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. (19 November 1928). Citation: For display of extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession above and beyond the call of duty during the diving operations in connection with the sinking in a depth of water 304 feet, of the U.S.S. F-4 with all on board, as a result of loss of depth control, which occurred off Honolulu, T.H., on 25 March 1915. On 17 April 1915, William F. Loughman, chief gunner’s mate, U.S. Navy, who had descended to the wreck and had examined one of the wire hawsers attached to it, upon starting his ascent, and when at a depth of 250 feet beneath the surface of the water, had his lifeline and air hose so badly fouled by this hawser that he was unable to free himself; he could neither ascend nor descend. On account of the length of time that Loughman had already been subjected to the great pressure due to the depth of water, and of the uncertainty of the additional time he would have to be subjected to this pressure before he could be brought to the surface, it was imperative that steps be taken at once to clear him. Instantly, realizing the desperate case of his comrade, Crilley volunteered to go to his aid, immediately donned a diving suit and descended. After a lapse of time of 2 hours and 11 minutes, Crilley was brought to the surface, having by a superb exhibition of skill, coolness, endurance and fortitude, untangled the snarl of lines and cleared his imperiled comrade, so that he was brought, still alive, to the surface.
COVINGTON, JESSE WHITFIELD
Rank and organization: Ship’s Cook Third Class, U.S. Navy. Place and date: At sea aboard the U.S.S. Stewart, 17 April 1918. Entered service at: California. Born: 16 September 1889, Haywood, Tenn. G.O. No.: 403, 1918. Citation: For extraordinary heroism following internal explosion of the Florence H. The sea in the vicinity of wreckage was covered by a mass of boxes of smokeless powder, which were repeatedly exploding. Jesse W. Covington, of the U.S.S. Stewart, plunged overboard to rescue a survivor who was surrounded by powder boxes and too exhausted to help himself, fully realizing that similar powder boxes in the vicinity were continually exploding and that he was thereby risking his life in saving the life of this man.
UPTON, FRANK MONROE
Rank and organization: Quartermaster, U.S. Navy. Born: 29 April 1896, Loveland, Colo. Accredited to: Colorado. G.O. No.: 403, 1918. Citation: For extraordinary heroism following internal explosion of the Florence H, on 17 April 1918. The sea in the vicinity of wreckage was covered by a mass of boxes of smokeless powder, which were repeatedly exploding. Frank M. Upton, of the U.S.S. Stewart, plunged overboard to rescue a survivor who was surrounded by powder boxes and too exhausted to help himself. Fully realizing the danger from continual explosion of similar powder boxes in the vicinity, he risked his life to save the life of this man.
BURKE, FRANK (also known as FRANCIS X. BURKE)
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 15th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division. Place and date: Nuremberg, Germany, 17 April 1945. Entered service at: Jersey City, N.J. Born: 29 September 1918, New York, N.Y. G.O. No.: 4, 9 January 1946. Citation: He fought with extreme gallantry in the streets of war-torn Nuremberg, Germany, where the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry, was engaged in rooting out fanatical defenders of the citadel of Nazism. As battalion transportation officer he had gone forward to select a motor-pool site, when, in a desire to perform more than his assigned duties and participate in the fight, he advanced beyond the lines of the forward riflemen. Detecting a group of about 10 Germans making preparations for a local counterattack, he rushed back to a nearby American company, secured a light machinegun with ammunition, and daringly opened fire on this superior force, which deployed and returned his fire with machine pistols, rifles, and rocket launchers. From another angle a German machinegun tried to blast him from his emplacement, but 1st Lt. Burke killed this guncrew and drove off the survivors of the unit he had originally attacked. Giving his next attention to enemy infantrymen in ruined buildings, he picked up a rifle dashed more than 100 yards through intense fire and engaged the Germans from behind an abandoned tank. A sniper nearly hit him from a cellar only 20 yards away, but he dispatched this adversary by running directly to the basement window, firing a full clip into it and then plunging through the darkened aperture to complete the job. He withdrew from the fight only long enough to replace his jammed rifle and secure grenades, then re-engaged the Germans. Finding his shots ineffective, he pulled the pins from 2 grenades, and, holding 1 in each hand, rushed the enemy-held building, hurling his missiles just as the enemy threw a potato masher grenade at him. In the triple explosion the Germans were wiped out and 1st Lt. Burke was dazed; but he emerged from the shower of debris that engulfed him, recovered his rifle, and went on to kill 3 more Germans and meet the charge of a machine pistolman, whom he cut down with 3 calmly delivered shots. He then retired toward the American lines and there assisted a platoon in a raging, 30-minute fight against formidable armed hostile forces. This enemy group was repulsed, and the intrepid fighter moved to another friendly group which broke the power of a German unit armed with a 20-mm. gun in a fierce fire fight. In 4 hours of heroic action, 1st Lt. Burke single-handedly killed 11 and wounded 3 enemy soldiers and took a leading role in engagements in which an additional 29 enemy were killed or wounded. His extraordinary bravery and superb fighting skill were an inspiration to his comrades, and his entirely voluntary mission into extremely dangerous territory hastened the fall of Nuremberg, in his battalion’s sector.